In 1983, a group of caring and concerned citizens met to discuss hunger in Ashe County. As a result, the Ashe Food Pantry was established to provide assistance to those needing help in our community. The first year 12 volunteers processed 780 applications for food and the Sharing Center was open 12 hours per week. Then in 1986, the Sharing Center moved to 03 North 3rd Avenue in West Jefferson. The total budget in 1986 was $4,834.47. For the next 20 years services continued and the program remained static.
Things changed in 2008. Economic problems and high unemployment resulted in greater need. Requests for food more than doubled. In 2011, the Sharing Center joined the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina as a partner agency and committed to the mission of providing food. This new focus on a single task was a turning point for the Sharing Center. Collaborating with the Second Harvest Food Bank and Feeding America, the Sharing Center was now able to identify food needs and develop programs to address them.
Quickly the Ashe Food Pantry advanced to the front lines fighting hunger in our community. Programs are developed, funded and adapted as needs change. In 2013, Michael Sexton, Executive Director, was recognized as the Dennis G. Hatchell Community Leadership Recipient. The Ashe Food Pantry was recognized by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina as the Exemplary Agency of the Year for 2016-2019. The Sharing Center continues to lead the charge in Ashe County and beyond to end hunger.
For over a decade the Ashe Food Pantry’s focus has been to feed our community. Our new name, Ashe Food Pantry, is a clear reflection of our mission statement: Leading the fight to end hunger in our community by acquiring and distributing food to those who seek aid. Our organization has the longest, most extensive experience with food assistance in our area and is the model for partner agencies in the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina 18 county region. We will continue to lead the charge to fight hunger in our community by creatively, passionately and intentionally finding ways to meet the food insecurity challenges of our neighbors every day. Hunger and food insecurity are issues that have solutions and we will not rest until food insecurity is history.